It was the spring of 1989 when my husband, David, was told by his surgeon to “go fishing.” Having been diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1986 and having spent three years with ongoing surgery and various treatments, we now had to prepare for the next phase of our time together.
We had a property in the mid-north of South Australia, where we cropped and ran sheep and cattle. Our daughters, Sally, Mary-Jane, and Sarah, helped on the property during the holidays and exeats, or time off, from boarding school. David’s surgeon referred us to Joy Nugent, private palliative care services, to assist us in the best way to move forward with comfort and confidence. We were quite taken aback with Joy’s words, “Aren’t you lucky to have cancer?” As time elapsed, it became clear what she meant.
We had time to plan what we needed to do to prepare for the amount of precious time we had together as a family. It was not possible for David to receive the care he needed and tend to our beloved property. We leased a town house and Joy and her team arrived to assist us through this time. Recovery from cancer was not an option for David, but removing fear and fostering realistic hope were options. Throughout this time David organized the sale of our property and farm equipment.